If you’re talking about the growth, development and positive change Orange Netball Association’s (ONA) been through over the years, there’s few better to speak to than Lynne Middleton.
She’s an undisputed legends of ONA and has been involved in plenty of different capacities since coming to Orange more than three decades ago.
“I arrived in Orange at the beginning of 1984 after five years as president at Narrabri … after [my first season playing] I was concerned about umpiring standards, a lack of publicity and a few other issues,” Middleton explained.
“My philosophy has always been if change is needed, you’d better put your hand up so I nominated to be vice-president.”
She spent 20 years on the committee.
“I worked with some amazing people in those 20 years,” Middleton said.
“People with passion, skills and vision, who really cared for people at every level and the advancement of netball as a whole.
“I’ll feel forever blessed having those people around, many of whom remain great friends.”
She also became one of the city’s leading coaches, mentoring countless sides to incredible success and although she officially retired in 2012, that didn’t last long.
“I got called back six months later at the other end of the spectrum, coaching 10-year-olds,” she laughed, she’s also coaching Vipers in the Toyota Cup now.
Although she has “far too many” highlights to nominate them all, Middleton did pick a few very special ones.
“For 22 years Orange High School was never out of the NSW Combined High Schools top 16, achieving two state titles and countless top six finishes,” Middleton enthused.
“Their success, in part, could be due to playing against older, more experienced players (in the ONA competitions) so it was a real highlight to see the way school-based clubs were embraced, encouraged and supported.
“It was a humbling experience to be granted life membership, joining an elite group of women who had given so much to netball. Then a few years ago, to receive the Anne Clarke Service Award from Netball NSW as well, Toot (Keegan) was the only other person I knew to have received one.
“Also, seeing many people’s work come to fruition with our excellent home at Sir Neville Howse Stadium.”
With all that considered, Middleton couldn’t be prouder to be on hand to help celebrate ONA’s 75th anniversary, which will be marked at Saturday’s gala dinner – aptly named the Net-Ball.
“ONA is here today because of the foresight of people like Bill Knight, Edna Ridley and Norma Corse – who is a living legend – and everyone who has followed on with selfless dedication and commitment,” Middleton said.
“They set us up for a wonderful 75 years of continuous success. I’m enjoying working with these developing players and I know darn well I won’t be around for all of the next 75 years, but I see the next generation is willing and more than able to pick up the baton and run it, to continue to push ONA to greater things.
“I wish everyone involved with this fantastic sport and association a great 75th anniversary celebration.”